Over the coming weeks and months, we will be profiling tutors, staff, alumni and students as part of our #PeopleOfPulse series!
First up, meet Niall McMonagle – Head of Audio & Music Technology Programme. One of the advantages of working in sound engineering is that you can often span a number of different roles and activities over the course of your career and Niall is a great example of that. Living a double life (but in the best possible way!) Niall combines a teaching role as Head of Audio Programme at Pulse College, with his responsibilities as Head Engineer and Studio Manager at Windmill Lane Studios.
We chatted with Niall about his teaching role and how he got into the music business.
How did you qualify to work with Audio?
Back in my day (and god knows things have moved on since then!) if you wanted to work in this type of job, there was really only one route in and that was to get a qualification in sound engineering. Pulse was the leading college for Sound Engineering, so it was a no brainer to study there. After I qualified, I still had to earn my stripes working for over three years as an assistant engineer at the recording studios, gradually doing more of my own sessions as the main engineer and constantly learning new things.
And how did you transition to a teaching role?
Well I managed not to leave the place – they couldn’t get rid of me! At the time Pulse College was expanding the options on Audio courses and I was bang up-to-speed with the latest technologies and software, having worked in a hands-on role at the studio. So it was a natural progression for me to move into teaching and I was keen to share my skills – teaching is full-on, but I love it.
When it comes to breaking into the business, the lesson I learnt is that if you get any opportunity whatsoever to work with good people in the business – no matter how “lowly” you might think the job is; making coffee or carrying equipment for the talent – grab it with both hands and make yourself indispensable; opportunities are hard to come by so don’t let them slip by. It wasn’t just chance that I was on the spot when a teacher was needed, I had slogged it out to be in the right place…
What are your responsibilities for the Advanced Diploma Course?
Generally there are four strands to my work, which involves
- Lecturing in classrooms and studios
- Designing the courses and what they should cover
- Creating course content
- Allocating assignments and grading students
The main things the students need to understand are the processes involved in sound engineering, working in a studio and working with live sound. They need to acquire music production skills and of course relevant software skills are central to being successful in a studio environment.
What do you love about the job?
That’s an easy one – the students are so full of energy and creativity that it would be impossible not to be enjoy working with them; it’s great fun and slightly insane most of the time! It’s a high energy environment and probably the opposite of what many people experience in a school classroom or working in an office. It makes a difference that everyone on the course has chosen to be there so they’re up for it.
That’s what I love but the students themselves get a great buzz out of working in the studio. There’s a huge emphasis at Pulse on studio work and getting practical experience recording bands in the studio, doing post production work and so on. The students love all that stuff and who wouldn’t?
Worked with any famous artists? Any tantrums?
Yep I’ve worked with lots of very successful acts through my job at Windmill Lane Studios. In recent years I’ve worked with some incredible talent including Kodaline, Ellie Goulding and Rudimental. No tantrums there though I’ve seen a few with other artists in the past. But you know what they say; what goes on in the studio, stays in the studio (though hopefully not the music!)…